Back in 2016, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reported about fish with human-like teeth being found in Michigan lakes. It wasn’t the DNR that discovered them…it was some fishermen who came across these fish near Port Huron and in Lake St. Clair.

This fish with a red belly and human teeth is called a pacu. The pacu is basically a South American fish related to the piranha; but fear not. The pacu only eats vegetation while its cousin the piranha will rip you to shreds and not leave anything left but your jewelry. The human-like teeth help the pacu gnash and eat harder things like nuts and seeds. There is another fish called a Sheepshead that is found in South America that also has human-like teeth.

So how did this scary-looking fish get to Michigan?

The DNR believes the pacus may have been exotic pets of some Michigander and outgrew their fish tanks (they get huge) or were eating other pet fish. Also, aquarium owners may have gotten tired of caring for their exotic fish and dumped them in Michigan waters. Bad move. Not only will they scare the crap out of anyone – thanks to their resemblance to a piranha – but survival is not guaranteed.

According to Aquatic Species and Regulatory Affairs Unit manager Nick Popoff via, “Pets released from confined, artificial environments are poorly equipped to fend off predators and may be unable to successfully forage for food or find shelter. Those that do succeed in the wild can spread exotic diseases to native animals. In the worst-case scenario, released animals can thrive and reproduce, upsetting natural ecosystems to the degree that these former pets become invasive species.”

The best thing for anyone to do with exotic pets is to donate them to a zoo or pet store if you’re tired of taking care of ‘em.

So the big questions: are the pacu breeding more and more here in Michigan? Are they even surviving? If so, just how many are there and can they become dangerous to humans as time goes by? Until we get more reports from the DNR we’ll have to assume the pacu still exists in various Michigan waters…possibly swimming northward and southward from Port Huron and into inland rivers and streams. If so, then I am comfortable when referring to them as “The Ugliest Creature in Michigan.”

Photos of these fish are seen in the gallery below!

Michigan's Ugliest Creature: The Fish With Human Teeth


Michigan's Most Dangerous Animals

Michigan's Most Savage Creature: The Snapping Turtle

The Gray Beast of Bete Grise